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Statement by IFES President and CEO Bill Sweeney on the death of former Board Director Joseph Napolitan


The Board of Directors and staff of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) are saddened by the news of the passing of Joseph “Joe” Napolitan on December 2, 2013, at the age of 84. Joe was a part of IFES from the very beginning, working hand-in-hand with our founder, F. Clifton White.

Joe was among the founding fathers of political consulting as a profession. One of the original members of the American Association of Political Consultants and the International Association of Political Consultants, he transformed the way candidates communicated with voters. He made his avocation into a profession. He helped elect people on virtually every line of the ballot – from President to Prime Minister to Sheriff to Ward Committeewoman. He knew every trick in the book and added a few chapters of his own. The Election Game and How to Win It is a classic text and remains mandatory reading for anyone aspiring to be in this business.

I served with Joe on IFES’ Board of Directors from 1993-2001 and worked with him for over two decades in Democratic Party politics. He was a friend and mentor. As an IFES Board Director, Joe helped focus IFES programming on the importance of elections, ensuring we would be one of the most effective organizations in promoting democracy.

From the candidate, to the voter, to the election commission, he understood that elections are a vital part of a sustainable democracy. Joe’s insight and guidance in the world of elections and democratic governance will be greatly missed.


IFES supports citizens’ right to participate in free and fair elections. Our independent expertise strengthens electoral systems and builds local capacity to deliver sustainable solutions. Since 1987, IFES has worked in over 135 countries – from developing democracies, to mature democracies.